August 5, 2009

Development-fertility link explored

As wealth increases in developing nations, fertility declines until a high level of economic development is reached, U.S. researchers said Wednesday.

The rise in an aging population globally accompanied with a drop in birth rates has lead to socioeconomic concerns on matters such as workforce maintenance, University of Pennsylvania researchers reported in Nature. The related rise and fall led leaders in developed and developing countries to express concerns that population decreases would become irreplaceable.

However, Penn researcher Hans-Peter Kohler and other researchers said they found a J-shaped correlation between economic development and fertility, indicating a reverse was possible.

In their research, the team examined total fertility rate and the human development index in 24 countries over a 30-year span. Low and medium human development index levels showed a fertility decline, they reported. However, but when human development index reaches advanced levels, as it is in the United States and the Netherlands, fertility decline reverses and slowly begins to rise, they said.